The Happy Tree, City Beach
Among the leafy streets of City Beach, you can find The Happy Tree. This whimsical tree is free to visit and a delight to children.
The Happy Tree was created in 1975 by retired orchardist and Perth author Ralph Soderlund. The inspiration for the tree was Ola Cohn’s Fairy Tree in Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne. The tree itself grows at the front of the home Mr Soderlund and his wife Phyll built in 1961. He started out carving his first character, Mr Gnome. Each character is hand carved, and a new one was added to the tree each year. A party was held under the tree to celebrate, with Mr Soderlund donning a top had and reading stories to the children. A final carved hat was added to a high branch in 2016 following the author’s passing.
Over 30 years later, The Happy Tree in City Beach is still bringing joy to Perth families. Town of Cambridge now hosts the children’s party for the tree each February. The most recent was held in February 2019. Everyone brings a plate for a picnic and a storyteller entertains the children with tales from Mr Soderlund’s books.
We stopped by on a sunny morning. Miss 5 spotted the tree as soon as we turned the corner. Once I opened her door, she was off to explore!
Knots in this tree have been carved out and small painted characters recessed in. Other characters are perched on branches or mounted to the trunk. Some are mythical creatures, while others are cute animals or birds. Miss 5 was particularly taken with the witch and a fairy.
A small wooden ladder leads up to a platform in the centre of the tree. A great vantage point for children to look down on the street and to view some of the characters.
Small seats carved from tree trunks are also set out under the tree. Miss 5 thought they were very comfy!
You don’t need to have read the books to appreciate the magic of this tree, although I’m sure this adds a greater appreciation to your visit. We have had the books highly recommended, but I’m not sure if Miss 5 would have the patience for reading these chapter books together yet. However, I hope to read them to her in future.
If, like us, you’re still into the rock hiding craze, this is a lovely spot to leave some fairy or gnome themed rocks for other families to find. We left a handful of bright coloured rocks hidden with the characters. There is also a small mailbox with a gnome’s head where children can leave little notes for the gnomes and fairies. So, maybe see if your little ones would like to draw a picture or a note before visiting.
This beautiful, heritage listed tree is well worth a visit. Children will adore its magical nature and spotting all the carvings.
The Happy Tree
Located at 9 Hovea Crescent, City Beach.
This attraction is free to visit. Please be considerate when parking and visiting as this is located in a residential area. The tree is on the verge at the address above. However, the local residents may be coming and going.
Follow the Happy Tree Facebook Page to find out when the next party will be held.
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